A woman who sees her destiny as England’s Queen.
A King who destroys what he no longer wants.
A poet’s love that will never be forgotten.
A King would not be denied. A woman who would be queen. And a gentle poet forced to watch helplessly as his one true love slipped out of his arms forever. These are the elements in Wendy J. Dunn’s poignant novel, Dear Heart, How Like You This?
Dear Heart tells the story of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. The novel is written in first person, from the point of view of Anne’s cousin, Sir Thomas Wyatt. Tom has secretly loved Anne his entire life, but has always been told he is not highly born enough to pursue her. He carefully masks his feelings, especially after Anne catches the eye of the king, and remains at Anne’s side as one of her staunchest friends and supporters. Then the unthinkable happens. After marrying Anne, the king tires of her and falsely accuses her of adultery. Imprisoned himself on the whim of the king’s arrogant brother-in-law, Tom watches helplessly as his true love and his closest friends go on trial for their lives…
Dear Heart is a novel that grips you before the end of the first sentence and doesn’t let go until the bitter end. In Dunn’s more than capable hands, Anne Boleyn comes to life, first as a whimsical child, then as a hurt and angry teenager, then as a woman both frightened and exhilarated by the dangerous game she is playing, and finally as a bruised-but not broken-victim of the king’s cruelty. Through Anne’s tumultuous life, her cousin Thomas is a spellbinding narrator, reporting the events around him with a reporter’s keen eye and a poet’s tender heart.
“I love this book and couldn’t get enough of it. Wendy Dunn does a good job of describing the sequence of events that led to Anne Boleyn’s rise and downfall. This book was so well written that one feels as if they were Thomas Wyatt, feeling every emotion he was going through, and the depth of his love for Anne Boleyn. A lot of detail is also given about Thomas Wyatt’s political/court career on the continent. Overall, a very enjoyable and historically accurate read.” – Amazon review.
“I would recommend “Dear Heart” to anyone who enjoys a love story or who has even a passing interest in English history. It is a beautifully written novel of love and betrayal. In fact, I’m off to read it again, just as soon as I dry my eyes.” – Debra Stang.
One of the best “Anne Boleyn” novels that I have ever read.
“Anne Boleyn appears in many novels, but most of them are pretty crude productions, rarely written with the nuance and feeling of this one. Anne, George and Thomas are complex, believable people. I would rank it next to Norah Loft’s The Concubine and Margaret Campell Barnes’ Brief gaudy hour,: A novel of Anne Boleyn.
This is actually the story of Thomas Wyatt, Anne’s cousin and admirer, recalling his life, intertwined with the Boleyns, recalled just after Anne’s execution. As such, it follows him to Italy and Calais – he sometimes loses contact with Anne for years at a time, or only hears of her at a remove. Those who are not admirers of Anne may also wish to argue that it allows the author to avoid dealing with some of Anne’s less attractive behavior. It has the advantage of allowing the author to quote a number of his luscious poems.
In contrast to some reviewers that felt that the novel should have stayed more strictly focussed on Anne, I felt that one of its flaws is that it scanted some aspects of Tom’s life, such as his relationship with his children. Mary Boleyn tends to fall out of the story as well.
That said, this was a delightful novel and I would be happy to read more by this author.” – Elizabeth Root
A heart-rending tale of love and loss
“Dear Heart, How Like You This? is a heart-rending tale of love and loss. Narrated by the poet Thomas Wyatt, the reader embarks on a fascinating journey that takes us from the yews of Hever Castle in Kent to the intrigue-laden courts of England, France, and Rome, as Wyatt recalls his desperate, and often helpless, desire for a woman whom he cannot save – the ill-fated Anne Boleyn. By turns wildly romantic and imbued with poetic melancholia, Dunn’s assured prose brings to life the charismatic Wyatt, depicting through his eyes Anne Boleyn’s transformation from a spirited child to wronged woman bent on exacting vengeance from a heartless king, and a queen tormented by her own ambitions, until her final horrifying hour on Tower green – an hour that destroys Wyatt’s innocence forever.
Dunn depicts Anne, and her brother George, as warm-hearted, intelligent persons, confidants in a triptych that includes Wyatt. Each in their own way is caught up in Henry VIII’s brutal machinations, but it is Wyatt who truly captures the imagination: a man with an abiding curiosity in the world around him, who cannot help but bear witness to the Boleyns dizzying rise and terrifying fall, even as he, too, is swept up in events beyond his control. His own faithless alliance with an adulterous wife; his love for a father succumbing to a relentless illness; his ambivalence toward his children; and his self-doubts as to his ultimate importance in a society overturned by the tumult of the Reformation underpin this tender story that dares to ask the question: What does it mean to love?
Though framed as an account of arguably the most famous of Henry VIII’s six wives, Dear Heart is far more than another re-telling of a well-trodden tale. For entwined with the glamorous, ultimately tragic, story of Anne Boleyn’s life and death, is that of an inherently good man’s struggle with the evils of his time, and of the toll that is often exacted of those who finds themselves immersed in the sweeping tides of historical change.” – C.W. Gortner
A Tale of Tragedy that Strikes at the Heart and Soul
“Wendy J Dunn’s Dear Heart, How Like You This? is a glimpse into Tudor England that has yet to be achieved by any other author. There have been many books written about the ill-fated Anne Boleyn but through the eyes of poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, Anne is portrayed as never before. For instead of a queen, we see a child with a love of life unsurpassed, an innocent spirit whose path to the execution block was paved by betrayal, untruths and heartbreak. A woman who could trust only two men in her life, her brother George and the man who loved her from childhood, Thomas Wyatt.
Based on documented history, Wendy J. Dunn has indeed added the exact amount of spice to create this superb historical novel. As Thomas shares his love for Anne, he also shares the fickle character of the Tudor time period where passions ran high and a sentence of death could so easily be achieved. Loyal to each other unto death, Anne, George and Thomas’ lives are entwined so steadfastly that what could not tear them apart was instead used to destroy them.
As we come to know Anne, George and Thomas through Thomas’ own words, we learn of a friendship that truly transcends time. Spun beautifully by the author, it is a camaraderie most have witnessed and yearn for. It is the familiarity established by the author that carefully captures you and heaves you right into the nucleus of Tudor England. It is not without surprise then that once the book concludes, you feel Thomas’s loss keenly and it is with an element of sadness that you allow the cover to close on his life.
What I admired most about this book is not only its sensitivity to the time period but its incredible grasp of human nature. In an era where life was unpredictable and fate often lay in the palms of others, Wendy J. Dunn captures the people that dwelt within it simply but effectively and ensures their vibrancy to the every end. Cleverly and thoughtfully composed, the author imparts a tale that she herself states is — “conceived around people who were once flesh and blood.”
Historians will enjoy this book for the insight it offers on Tudor life, for the politics of the English court and for the dominance of Henry VIII. Others will enjoy this work simply because it is a tale of tragedy that cannot fail to strike at the heart and soul.”